After I wrote the post, I remembered that O2 continues to sell dongle-based wireless Internet, to be used with computers, at the marginal rate of £5 per GB. Its CEO's blog post makes even less sense now
PS 2013 Three yeas later, and mobile data is ubiquitous and it did turn out to be an infrastructure issue.
First, AT&T admitted its infrastructure could not handle 'unlimited' data that it had offered. Then O2's CEO came up with this strange blog post, comparing text message data usage to a video stream, and then creating a bogeyman of the freeloading 'non-fair-use' user who the 'fair-use' clause in the contract could somehow not handle. The Guardian dove into it at some length.
So, what is unlimited? I know it is limited at some point (fair use), but to me, 'Unlimited' gives me the feeling of not having to worry about my usage, which may have peaks and troughs.
O2 contracts already had a 'fair-use' clause, so this does not make mathematical sense at any level. If usage can be metered, the >1GB users can be billed extra; and if the average usage remains under the anticipated maximum of 500MB that the infrastructure is meant to handle, there should not be a revenue problem, and capping at 500MB should not result in more revenue.
It appears that like AT&T, there is bad infrastructure planning at work. And, instead of investing in a position that tracks and chases after the 'unfair-use customers', O2 decides to throw all data users into uncertainty about their usage and hoping for more revenue. One, yes one, investigator would be enough for the 2,000 or so 'unfair-use' customers.
Something is just not right in the O2 data world. They should come clean on this and respect their data customers who, in addition to being top-tier consumers, drive Britain's economic engine with their work-related data usage. An email not answered in time, or a job alert not responded to, can break a business deal or a lost interview, and in 2010, a person should not have to think about when to turn off the 3G link.